The daily health ritual you’ve been doing all wrong, according to the expert

IT'S a ritual we all do twice daily, but experts have warned that we could be brushing our teeth all wrong.

Removing plaque is key when it comes to cleaning our teeth properly as a build up of this can lead to bad breathe and tooth decay.

The aim of brushing our teeth is to remove as much plaque as possible from every tooth.

Current advice states you should brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes, twice daily.

It's also recommended that we floss regularly in order to remove plaque that forms along the gum line.

Dr Josefine Hirschfeld, a lecturer in restorative dentistry at the University of Birmingham said that evidence actually suggests that we should be brushing our teeth for four minutes, twice daily – a total of eight minutes of tooth brushing each day.

Writing in The Conversation she said: "This longer brushing time means we can more effectively clean our teeth and get those hard-to-reach places.

"But be careful not to brush too often (such as more than two times a day) and avoid brushing hard or using abrasive toothpastes and brushes, as this can also cause damage to our teeth and gums – especially when using a toothbrush with hard bristles or abrasive toothpastes."

Dr Hirschfeld explained that there are many different brushing techniques that can be implemented.

She said that one of the most recommended ones is the 'modified Bass technique' which helps clean below the gum line.

This is where the plaque forms first and is most likely to cause inflammation.

"You should always brush your teeth with a gentle force – though precisely how hard this should be is currently not conclusive. Gentle brushing is preferred so that we don’t damage the hard and soft tissues in our mouth", she said.

If you have damaged teeth then this could make your teeth more sensitive to brushing.

Using abrasive bristles to brush could further damage your teeth and Dr Hirschfeld said your dentist will be able to help find a suitable brush for your needs.

She explained that flossing your teeth alongside brushing is great for oral hygiene.


The most effective way to floss, she said, is to slide the floss between the gums and tooth by holding it firmly, almost so that the floss 'hugs it'.

You should then rub along the surface of the tooth in a gentle up and down motion, advancing the floss beneath the gum line.

She added: "Interdental brushes, which can be pushed between the teeth at the gum level, can be even more effective. Less is known about other cleaning aids – including tooth picks, water jets, or tongue clears – and how effective they are.

"While we may be used to the advice that we should brush our teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, it’s important that we also concentrate on using proper technique to ensure that we’re brushing thoroughly and properly.

"Brushing for longer than two minutes may also help us ensure that we remove more plaque off of our teeth – which will likely lead to better dental health."

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